Hip hoppers gathered at the place to be on Friday night, August 13th, for the first collaborative show held by Air n Electricity and Clubhouse Collective. As usual, we sent one of our team to spectate the event at the Amersham Arms in New Cross, South London, to experience the first AExCC event first-hand.
New Cross station sits away from the regular, more circulated Overground stations in London - accessible only by the New Cross Gate or Surrey Quays stations. Resultantly, the two-platform station is relatively quiet and - where the Amersham Arms is situated a mere 2 minute walk away - it seemed as though everybody walking up the hill from New Cross Overground was headed to the same place.
Upon entry, the venue bar staff denied access to the wifi code as it is reserved only for DJs. This led to a conversation being struck up with JoeJas, the man managing the wheel of steels during pre-show. At first glance, JoeJas immediately appeared to be a product of the Odd Future movement; the deejay spun various hits from the defunct record label throughout the night, also keeping the crowd entertained between sets alongside the esteemed Bostock. First to perform was JoeJas’ partner, Retropxssy - an experimental artist who blends the motions and emotions of vibraphones and percussion playing ‘behind the beat’ with bold, overtly-estuarine English singing and spoken word vocals. Retropxssy is animated and confident in her performance, and did well at getting the crowd moving with ear-catching tracks like Housewife and her garage banger Part Of Me.
Ayo Volas was next up on the setlist, a proud SE don who kept up the garage vibes and boldly freestyled using three random words randomly called out from the audience. The three words were ‘bitcoin’, ‘reciprocate’, and ‘power’. Ayo flaunted his fluency and prowess in the art of emceeing, entertaining the crowd and spitting lyrics off the dome. Next on the setlist was ASH18X of 18X Records, a group made up of Miliano, L!MA, OXY18X, and Purp’s. Unbeknownst to the crowd, Purp’s took the stage first alongside his accomplice on the bass and played with two guitars as a prelude to the full 18X performance. Purp’s came out in a signature paisley shirt, ankh pendant and blue pants, blending the worlds of Hendrix and Prince with a blue bandana tied around the nut of his purple guitar. Mid-set, Purp’s swapped guitars with his bandmate and rocked the crowd with some hard solos before welcoming the rest of the group onto the stage.
The 18X boys instigated the first mosh pit of the night to their banger Cold Turkey, by the end of which L!MA had abandoned his ZZ Top t-shirt. The group do well to bring together the worlds of rock music and UK rap, engineering a unique cross-disciplinary mix. 18X’s performance really turned the heat up in the Amersham Arms with the performance of their tune New Energy, with L!MA having made all the difference by getting in the crowd and starting the mosh pits himself - moshing alongside artists such as Khos and Mad Rai from the previous Air n Electricity event who had made the journey for the event on Friday. However, the venue had cooled right off again by the time the following act had come and gone.
Si Xiazi, a 20-year-old South African rapper, took the stage not long after he’d turned up to the venue. The young performer only returned to music after a year-long break this February and, as Air n Electricity advertised on their Instagram, this was Si Xiazi’s first show in the UK. Nevertheless, Si Xiazi started off hot, telling the audience “this is my first time being here so y’all are gonna have to show me what London’s all about”. With their blood still up from the 18X performance, the crowd got involved from the get-go. However, halfway through his first track Si Xiazi stopped performing and started pulling faces at the sound engineer. He complained that the song was glitching, so DJ Bostock reloaded it and spun the track again. After running it back, Si Xiazi quit rapping and started shouting in the direction of the turntables “yo, DJ!”, criticising Bostock for not changing to the next track fast enough. At this point, the lack of cohesion was apparent to the audience. But, that’s what happens when one skips the sound check and only turns up 10 minutes before their set starts.
Si Xiazi never made it through a song without stopping abruptly to moan at the DJ, shaking his head to the crowd while gesturing at the sound booth, saying down the mic “I’m tryna figure out what’s going on with the set”. Some spectators left the crowd to visit the less painful smoking area, and those that remained never again got on board with Si Xiazi’s efforts to involve the crowd. When a performer brings positive energy onto the stage, that energy is reciprocated by the audience - and the same happens when a performer brings negative energy on stage. Perhaps it was nervousness as a young performer after having had a long break, or perhaps it was outright arrogance - either way, Si Xiazi’s performance didn’t work on the night.
Thankfully, Chri$DaPrince kicked things back into gear in his follow-up performance, entertaining the crowd in a Kidulthood tee while chanting “Tell that bitch I’m bulletproof, Luke Cage in this bitch”. Whether it’s grime, hip hop, or drill, if it’s a hype ting Chri$DaPrince is on it and he brings that energy into the venue. Following Chri$DaPrince’s set was Forever International, a revered group who came onto the stage in bulletproof vests and left the stage dripping in sweat. Forever International brought crazy energy (video, below) and turned the Amersham Arms into mosh pit central (MPC). All in attendance were digging the drill vibes from tunes such as Fready’s Popokokoroko, and F.I. really rounded out the scheduled acts in incredible style.
Due to a mishap, singer Bukky had to perform later than scheduled and so took the stage last of all. However, the perfect mistake served destiny as she sang her two self-produced songs Sweat and Come We Got Diamonds that brought a more-than-welcome chilled out energy to finish up the night. Although Bukky as a closing act was working out well, she was cut short on time - but we’ll be sure to look out for more from her in the future.
Highlight of the night: Forever International’s intense set, followed by a heavily-applauded vocal session from Bukky.
Lowlight of the night: Si Xiazi’s egocentricity.
The next Air n Electricity x Clubhouse Collective event is highly anticipated, though until that is announced there is another aNe x BigLoveLtd event scheduled for next Wednesday, August 25th, at the Fiddler’s Elbow in Camden.